LOVE ON KAUAI

Love at first sight. He fell for me, I backed off.  Enormous and gaudy, he always wanted to reach out and grab me. It got to the stage that, whenever I drove my  Skylark into the parking lot, he preened and flirted.  I had to walk by his house every time I entered Dels which put me off, too. He lived in a vast abode right alongside the front door and his noisy screech stopped traffic.

My quiet “Hi” in response  was more a polite recognition than a “It’s good to see you, too,” sort of thing.  I  didn’t want to shake his hand.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t even want to get  close to him. It was a relationship I tried to avoid.

Jan, the manager of the store, clued me in. “He’s in love,” she said. I groaned.

I seem to attract guys like that. Not my type, you know. All birds fall in love with me. The swans at the Hyatt, in some circles, are called ‘Bettejo’s birds’. They come when I call. I think they think I’m a funny looking bird who got plucked.

After a bit, however, I succumbed. I mean, who could resist Duke’s-that’s his name-romantic advances? We held hand through the bars and he tried to kiss me. He moved in when Del’s closed and the day he came through the gates-cage and all-he whooped  a “HI” they heard in town. He lived, as Jan said, when she saw his new digs, in bird heaven. No longer confined to his cage, when he wanted company he’d stroll on down. Once I had a Quaker-go-to-meeting meeting here and he joined in silent vigil.

He flew away last Thursday. First glorious flight. His cheerful “Hi” sprang from a tree, not from the wrought iron gate where he lived.  Between then and Tuesday, when we finally caught him, he’d flown in the highest, skimpiest branches of seven tall trees. The first two were in his own territory, the third was in an Avatar banyan across the street and up a steep wet, slippery red mud bank. WhenKauai got hit with a deluge, thunder and lightning, crashes and bangs, rain like water sloshing from a hydrant overhead, and a flooded road to cross, they  became an obstacle course contributing to the melee. I sat in the rain by the side of the road in stinking sweats and red foul weather gear talking to a tree. I slid down banks. I crawled up slopes. Trespassed. Tried to avoid barbed wire claws. I spotted him but nothing I did could coax him down. Hungry and cold and scared nothing I  did helped. Once below him in the tree, thtough, he never took his eyes off me. But his voice got weaker.

Every morning I’d wake up thinking this was the day I’d find him dead.

When he flew to a tree by the side of the road I called the fire department. Wonderful guys. They got here pronto, spent the day, and we got lucky. The sun came out and a power line looped and galloped right in front of my gate.

A darling lady at 911 called the power company for me and they showed up with a huge white cherry picker and more wonderful guys who got in the act. Traffic got stopped. Roofs and tall timber got climbed. A great guy from the power company in a high white bucket thing caught him once. He got away. But luck was with us this time, too. He flew down. I  reached him. Fed him. He scarfed  a  bag of peanuts before I got him on a perch. He tried to bite me but I held fast his feet, threw a towel around him, and, with the help of a burly fireman, who kept me on my feet,we raced with him to the barn.

Not an ounce of  love got lost in Kalaheo Tuesday. All because of a bird named Duke. What won’t people do for love?

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